This Saturday, April 14, 2012, marks the UFC's first stop in the Scandinavian country of Sweden. The second Fuel broadcast of the UFC has had its own version of the now-commonplace shuffle. Originally scheduled to square off in the main event against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Swedish-born UFC prospect Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson now looks to extend his winning streak to five against the toughest fighter he has ever faced.
Thiago Silva is his new opponent. Silva was once a top prospect in the UFC light heavyweight division but in the past three years he has fallen on tough times. Whether it has been losses, back problems, popping for PEDs or suspension, Silva cannot seem to stay on the path forward. This Saturday will be his chance at redemption.
After being out of action for over a year due to over a year due to suspension and a bad back, Thiago recently stepped in on short notice to take the main event fight. Thiago may have been out a long time and he may not have technically won a fight in two and a half years, but he is still a very dangerous striker.
Alexander Gustafsson has never had his chin tested by a striker as powerful and explosive as Thiago Silva. How will he react if the Brazilian-born fighter lands a good straight punch to the face? Further still, can Alexander protect his chin if Silva gets on the inside?
All of these questions are fun to speculate on and discuss. But, one question seems to be looming over this bout like a stubborn spring rain storm: which fighter has the most to lose in this main event slugfest?
Thiago Silva would be an easy target with his plethora of ill-advised decisions, injuries and lack of a recent win in the Octagon. He enters the cage at UFC on Fuel 2 desperately needing a win. This much is true. However, there is a glaring reason that makes Alexander Gustafsson the man with the most to lose at this Saturday fight day in Sweden.
Silva has question marks right now, but it unlikely that one loss here would lead to him receiving his walking papers. On the other hand, his opponent is on a four fight winning streak and is likely to move into the top five in the UFC light heavyweight with a win.
The "Mauler" is sitting on the edge of his silver future. He has one foot in the lower realm of the 205 division and he is focusing his gaze up the ladder at the shiny gold belt in the sky. If he wins this fight he is the so-called next big thing in the light heavyweight division and if he loses he will fall back into the realm of the less relevant.
Jon Jones is set to defend the UFC light heavyweight title on April 21 at UFC 145 against rival Rashad Evans. Dan Henderson looms beyond that. After the dust has settled in those two bouts, there is not another clear contender. If Gustafsson wins this fight a person could speculate that he could be worthy of being a contender. After all, five fight winning streaks are hard to come by in the higher weight classes of the UFC. For these reasons, Alexander Gustafsson has the most to lose at UFC on Fuel 2.